Background levels of some major, trace, and rare earth elements in indigenous plant species growing in Norway and the influence of soil acidification, soil parent material, and seasonal variation on these levels.
Baseline levels of 43 elements, including major, trace, and rare earth elements (REEs) in several native plant species growing in boreal and alpine areas, are presented. Focus is placed on species metal levels at different soil conditions, temporal variations in plant tissue metal concentrations, and interspecies variation in metal concentrations. Vegetation samples were collected at Sogndal, a pristine site in western Norway, and at Risdalsheia, an acidified site in southernmost Norway. Metal concentrations in the different species sampled in western Norway are compared with relevant literature data from Norway, Finland, and northwest Russia, assumed to represent natural conditions. Except for aluminium (Al) and macronutrients, the levels of metals were generally lower in western Norway than in southern Norway and may be considered close to natural background levels. In southern Norway, the levels of cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) in particular appear to be affected by air pollution, either by direct atmospheric supply or through soil acidification. Levels of some elements show considerable variability between as well as within plant species. Calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and potassium (K) are higher in most species at Sogndal compared to Risdalsheia, despite increased extractable concentrations in surface soil in the south, probably attributed to different buffer mechanisms in surface soil. Antagonism on plant uptake is suggested between Ca, Mg, and K on one hand and Al on the other. Tolerance among calcifuges to acid conditions and a particular ability to detoxify or avoid uptake of Al ions are noticeable for Vaccinium vitis-idaea.
Mixtures of rare earth elements (REEs) in fertilizers are widely used in Chinese agriculture to improve crop nutrition. REE concentrations in wild-growing plants, especially herbs, are little known. This study describes differences in the concentrations and proportions of REEs in eight forest-floor herbaceous plants and relates these differences to soil and mineral nutrient conditions. REEs studied were yttrium (Y), lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (Nd), samarium (Sm), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy), holmium (Ho), erbium (Er), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), and lutetium (Lu). Leaf concentrations of sum REEs differed more than one order of magnitude between species, being highest in Anemone nemorosa (10.1 nmol/g dry mass) and lowest in Convallaria majalis (0.66 nmol/g) from the same site. Leaf concentrations of all REEs correlated positively (p
Few ecotoxicological studies exist for rare earth elements (REEs), particularly field-based studies on their bioaccumulation and food web dynamics. REE mining has led to significant environmental impacts in several countries (China, Brazil, U.S.), yet little is known about the fate and transport of these contaminants of emerging concern. Northern ecosystems are potentially vulnerable to REE enrichment from prospective mining projects at high latitudes. To understand how REEs behave in remote northern food webs, we measured REE concentrations and carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios (?15N, ?13C) in biota from marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems of the eastern Canadian Arctic (N = 339). Wildlife harvesting and tissue sampling was partly conducted by local hunters through a community-based monitoring project. Results show that REEs generally follow a coherent bioaccumulation pattern for sample tissues, with some anomalies for redox-sensitive elements (Ce, Eu). Highest REE concentrations were found at low trophic levels, especially in vegetation and aquatic invertebrates. Terrestrial herbivores, ringed seal, and fish had low total REE levels in muscle tissue (?REE for 15 elements
Recovery of resources, in particular, metals, from waste flows is widely seen as a prioritized option to reduce their potential supply constraints in the future. The current waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) treatment system is more focused on bulk metals, where the recycling rate of specialty metals, such as rare earths, is negligible compared to their increasing use in modern products, such as electronics. This study investigates the challenges in recovering these resources in the existing WEEE treatment system. It is illustrated by following the material flows of resources in a conventional WEEE treatment plant in Denmark. Computer hard disk drives (HDDs) containing neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets were selected as the case product for this experiment. The resulting output fractions were tracked until their final treatment in order to estimate the recovery potential of rare earth elements (REEs) and other resources contained in HDDs. The results further show that out of the 244 kg of HDDs treated, 212 kg comprising mainly of aluminum and steel can be finally recovered from the metallurgic process. The results further demonstrate the complete loss of REEs in the existing shredding-based WEEE treatment processes. Dismantling and separate processing of NdFeB magnets from their end-use products can be a more preferred option over shredding. However, it remains a technological and logistic challenge for the existing system.